Meditations on Ice, Part 1

I realized as I went through my February photographs that not only am I a little behind on this blog, but February was a pretty icy month. At least it was pretty ice. Since very little else is happening in the garden, I decided to look at ice patterns.

At the beginning of the month, my car acquired winter camouflage, which melted away very quickly.

This freezing rain was wet enough to blob into the patterns you would find in a camouflage hunting outfit, but in white on white.
Warm freezing rain formed very interesting camouflage for my car. Photographed on February 6, 2019.

Meanwhile, the driveway looked like someone went wild with pretzel salt.

This frozen precipitation looks more like big chunks of pretzel salt, but slightly more translucent.
Freezing rain, or perhaps sleet, on the driveway. Photographed on February 6, 2019.

It was relatively warm, so this ice was not a difficult cleanup. The next storm’s ice was much worse however.

The ice is about a quarter-inch thick, with a pattern that resembles free-cut mosaics more than crackle. It is barely translucent; there is only a faint hint of the black dashboard inside.
A view of my windshield. Photographed on February 12, 2019.

Yes, this view is looking into the car; the darker area at the bottom is my black dashboard! This freezing rain created a skating rink and caused a lot of power outages in the area. It got just warm enough the next day that I was able to scrape the ice off the sidewalk and pry it off the car in time to get to work.

This thaw was followed by rain that froze. We had frost ferns on the planter ledge and the steps.

These frost flowers look like finely divided fern leaves that have dried out a little—like the spent fern fronds you might pull out of a vase when you refresh the water for a bunch of flowers.
It rained and then it froze on the ledge of the planter at the head of the driveway. Photographed on February 15, 2019.

The lawn was not as warm as the pavement, so it had a glaze of ice that was thick enough to be only crackable with my heel, but too slick to walk over.

The ice coating the lawn shows only cracks where I tried to break through with my heel; tiny freezing rain pellets gathered in the cracks to highlight them.
Enough water and freezing rain fell on the lawn to create a thick glaze. Photographed on February 15, 2019.

We had another and more thorough thaw, followed by more freezing rain that was a bit colder than it was at the beginning of the month. The car had a completely different coating that it had had two weeks before. It would make a beautiful textured glass.

A finely pebbled pattern that is a mix of small clear drops and similarly sized aggregates of smaller crystals.
Here is a fine-grained freezing rain pattern on the car door. Photographed on February 20, 2019.

The preceding thaw generated quite a bit of runoff, which created sidewalk issues.

The ice refroze in long shard-like patterns before it started melting again.
Runoff that froze, melted, and started refreezing despite the application of salt. Photographed on February 21, 2019.

The month ended with polar vortices that froze the yard again.

The north lawn and part of the pawpaw bed thawed, then froze, and acquired a dusting of snow that showed water paths and footprints. Photographed on February 25, 2019.

And again. This last vortex came roaring in the first weekend in March. 

These are the rocks that line the downspout drain into the rain garden. The roof runoff froze so rapidly that the bubbles in the rushing water and the wash patterns onto the rocks and over previous layers of ice are very clear. Photographed on March 4, 2019.

We have had subzero windchills at night and very cold days since the beginning of the month, but it is Michigan. They are predicting mid-40s and thunderstorms for Sunday.

We are not done with frozen precipitation, I am sure—but you can’t blame me for hoping.